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Core Curriculum

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Notre Dame is not just about gaining qualifications and passing exams. We also believe in the importance of encouraging spiritual and moral growth, and developing important core skills and knowledge which add to the breadth of your education. This is done through the various elements of our core curriculum.


PTE stands for Philosophy, Theology and Ethics. It is an exploration of faith programme that aims to give post-16 students an opportunity to reflect on the deeper questions of life, such as who we are, why we are here, and how we want to live our lives and conduct our relationships. The emphasis in the lessons is on active participation and learning from each other, and, on occasion, visiting speakers. In our Catholic college, PTE is a key part of the core curriculum and all students, in both lower sixth (L6) and upper sixth (U6), are expected to attend a one hour weekly session.

The importance of PTE lies in two main areas. The first is that it augments and supports the distinctive ethos of the College; that we are a community which puts the human being at the centre of all we do, helping to develop values, attitudes and character separately from the main examination subjects. The second is that PTE is the only lesson where the students can meet people outside their chosen subjects, thus allowing them to develop wider relationships and encouraging inclusivity and understanding among our diverse student population.

Through the PTE programme, students will be presented with further opportunities to explore and live out their faith. For those who wish to participate, there is an annual residential retreat to Ampleforth, as well as the opportunity to travel as part of the Leeds Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, where students care for and befriend sick and vulnerable pilgrims from our area.

Students who study A level Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Studies (RS) do not attend PTE, although they are welcome to participate in many of the supplementary activities. The values and attitudes taught in PTE are reflected in the A level RS programme. As the majority of the A level RS staff also teach PTE we work as a faculty, sharing resources and ideas across the two areas.


All students who are enrolled on A level courses are given the opportunity to be entered for general studies. Assessment is by examination in the form of essay type responses and multiple choice questions. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to broaden your horizons and develop your skills.


The Extended Project Qualification allows you to study a topic which extends your learning, either in your own field of study, a related area, or one relevant to your own personal interests. You will have the opportunity to produce a piece of work, such as an investigation/field study, a dissertation, a performance or an artefact. You will be assessed on your ability to plan, manage, complete and review your project. Achievement of the EPQ is highly regarded by universities and employers. If you are interested in undertaking an extended project you should speak to your tutor, though you will receive further information during your time here at College.


The College has over 1000 computer systems (one for every two students) and provides drop-in facilities for computer access on the IT floor and in the library, during the College day. There is a wide variety of software installed to support studies across the whole range of College courses, and internet access is available from all of the computers. Wi-Fi is available to student mobile devices throughout the College campus and there is a support desk for students to get help with any IT related issues.

The College Management Information System (CEDAR) can be used to check students’ timetables and their progress in subjects. It is also used to register students electronically in classes, prepare reports and upload assessment data. IT is also used by departments in their teaching, particularly the Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle and Microsoft Classroom), giving students access to notes and resources that will assist them in their studies and enable them to submit work electronically. Many departments have their own computer suites to aid learning.

Every user in College is allocated an Office 365 email account, providing a large amount of OneDrive storage space for files and licensing them to install the latest versions of Microsoft Office software on their own devices. College students can use Office 365 email, OneDrive, Microsoft Apps, Moodle, Clickview and CEDAR from any device with internet access.


Students who do not have GCSE Maths and/or English at grade 4 or above will be required to continue to study maths and/or English at GCSE level. We also offer Functional Skills and freestanding maths qualifications at levels 1 and 2 as a stepping stone to GCSE.